The Golden Wastes
Arcane magic is the manipulated force of the Outside. It is believed that the Fomorians taught the Ancient Sea Kings the Art of magic, or that the Kings somehow stole the knowledge. This was the origin of wizardry, and the Art was passed down from the Ancient Sea Kings to the current races of men.
Beyond the sight and ken of mortal man, lay the realms of teeming darkness far beyond the Astral Sea. Through blood and sweat, a secretive and powerful few have learned to breach the boundaries of our physical world and commune with the unnatural forces of these other realms. Practitioners of arcane magic send their consciousness into the nearly unfathomable strangeness of the Outside by means of a meditative trance. This extension of their consciousness leaves the practitioner disoriented. This trance replaces the sleep of normal men. Within these murky gulfs, the wizards bargains with strange forces to extend their power into our mortal realm. The rituals of magic are strictly formulaic but nonsensical to the mortal mind, incorporating numerology, astrology, ancient artifacts, sacrifices and lengthy incantations.
Sages argue exactly what unseen powers fuel arcane magic. The most superstitious claim that wizards bargain with demons from the Netherworld. Others believe the forces are not inherently malevolent although so potent that the wise tread carefully. All agree that wizardry has its origins at the beginning of time, when there were only azure skies and indigo seas, wherein dwelled the races known as the Fomorians. These races were born of old magic and took many forms in the darkness of the deep. For centuries, they and other long-forgotten aquatic beings warred for control of the primordial ocean that covered Orbis. These races warred even after the lands were raised from the sea, and primitive tribes of man worshiped them as gods.
Amidst the ruins of the Ancient Sea Kings common on Orbis are older works of eerie crumbling stone seemingly brought up from the floor of the sea and carved with symbols of power. These places are the legacy of the Fomorians, containing all their vast knowledge and power for those who know how to seek out such things and do not fear the possible consequences. For those for whom magic does not flow in their blood, the magic arts are gleaned from these ancient sea-worn stones. Wizards have been known to jealously war for control over such places, often forming powerful guilds or strongholds to study and protect the sites
Just as each race of man has its own language, the eerie stone runestones have been found scribed in various styles, accredited to several different breeds of the Fomorians. The best known are swirling, erratic glyphs and precise geometric patterns, but many others have been found and most wizards choose to keep their discoveries secret. The symbols and words seem alien to human minds, and while their understanding can bring great power it can be dangerous. The eccentricity of many wizards stems from a deeper understanding of the nature of the universe, or perhaps the madness such knowledge can bring.
Most wizards study the runestones without considering too deeply the origin of the magic they contain, but some wizards are more selective in what magic they choose to assimilate and invoke. Most non-wizards consider magic of the Fomorians to be evil and perilous, for certainly their race has always been a bitter foe to any who dwell upon land. These glyphs are widely known and studied, often discovered along coastlines upon the sites of the oldest cities of the Empire. At many of the ruins wide stone steps lead deep into the waters, sometimes to watery temples to ancient aquatic gods that predate any worshiped today. Many speculate that the Fomorian glyphs were intentionally left in convenient places where the land-dwelling races would find them.
The original study of magic by men was sporadic and dangerous. It was not until the great wizard Hammurabi codified the principles of magic in its nine circles of mystery that anything resembling real knowledge was understood. He created the Great Library as a repository of his research, and his disciples today still make up the bulk of all wizards in the world. It was only later after the great mage’s lore became established tradition that independent paths of the mastery of magic began to take shape.
There are many Schools of Magic nowadays. Some are small, tightly bound coteries focused around a particular wizard’s teaching, arcane patron, place of power, or artifact. Others are loose associations held together only by fraternal ties and a similar outlook, or a cabal focused on temporal or planar power.